Air, Freight News

Battery ban is blunt instrument, say shippers

[ February 26, 2016   //   ]

The Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) has described a recent International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) ban on lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft as “disappointing”. The UK-headquarterd group says that it goes against previous recommendations and does not address the wider problem of undeclared battery shipments or low-quality counterfeits.

ICAO has imposed an interim ban from 1 April 2016 on the carriage of all shipments of lithium-ion batteries, which will remain in force until working groups agree a new lithium-ion battery packaging performance standard. This is expected by 2018 but could take longer if further research is needed.

Rather than a ban, GSF favours the more proportionate measures recommended by ICAO’s own expert dangerous goods panel last October which included a proposal to allow shipment on passenger aircraft if batteries are only charged 30%, and a limit of one package per consignment for certain types of battery.

GSF said it was “surprised and disappointed” that the ICAO National Council has gone against the recommendations of its own experts. A ban would not tackle the issue of undeclared lithium-ion battery shipments or unscrupulous companies deliberately shipping undeclared batteries.

This problem is compounded if undeclared batteries are low-quality counterfeits which are more prone to go up in flames and GSF says it is vital that governments redouble their efforts to crack down on counterfeit battery producers and shippers that fail to comply with the regulations.

GSF head of policy Alex Veitch said ICAO should investigate the use of screening equipment to detect batteries. Feasibility tests carried out by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and others have been successful and fICAO should explore the benefits of the wider adoption of this technology.

Mr Veitch said: “ICAO must now act rapidly to agree new packaging standards for lithium-ion batteries. We simply cannot wait until 2018 for resolution of the issue. The outright ban on passenger aircraft will cause a major disruption to the global supply chain for essential products vital to international trade”.

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